Kids are natural-born problem solvers and creators. Until they reach a certain age (10? 11?) they see no obstacles in overcoming challenges of any size or scope to make wonderful things that are easy to take for granted. My little dude is 7 and has no shortage of imagination or solutions-oriented spirit – he comes up with dope ideas almost every single day.
One of the many things I’m grateful for this year is the way he unknowingly shows me the value of iterating and innovating using a limited set of materials and parameters through a simple yet challenging exercise: he asks me to draw a unique napkin for his lunch each day using just a few colored markers and our imaginations.
When he first started asking, I thought we’d run out of ideas pretty quick. Here we are, more than 4 years later, and our idea machine has become a prolific part of our lives that gives us great joy.
Silly? Maybe to some. But this silly exercise has translated into real value in other parts of my life, opening my heart and mind to new and more diverse approaches to solutions both personally and professionally.
My little boy shares his ideas so freely, too, it’s impossible to not be inspired by the power of a child’s natural gift for collaboration. For example, I learn from him how teams work best when each member brings even something seemingly small to the table.
I don’t always remember to take pictures of them but here are some of our favorites (out of literally hundreds now):
And, I’m especially in love with the moments when he challenges me to draw things that are way outside my comfort zone with ideas from the imaginations of great artists who’ve inspired us all:
“Daddy, how about you draw Hobbes?”
This is all just to say that it’s often seemingly little things, in the unsuspected parts of life, that inspire me in everything I do. The best part? He’s starting to draw with me:
Until my sweet pal showed up (now 7 years old), I didn’t know or even think I could draw well at all but, thanks to his inspiration, I’ve a new love for challenges like these that nudge me to be more innovative in ways both big and small.
Someday you might find and read this, sweet pal, and be reminded how grateful I am for you, for getting to be your daddy, and for the many gifts of inspiration and love you give to me. No small thing. Thank you. I love you.